State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

New Jury Duty Summons Process to Save Time and Money

by on January 10, 2019 12:00 PM

A new online system for Centre County jury duty summonses gives potential jurors a simpler option for responding while saving time and money for both the county and residents.

Previously, potential jurors received an envelope with a four-page questionnaire to be completed and another envelope to return it. Now, they will receive a single postcard with instructions for responding online.

"Really what prompted it was to try to give more robust options for prospective jurors to respond to summonses," said Centre County Jury Commissioner Jason Moser. "It’s also a cost savings because it’s less mail we’re sending out, less paperwork... Now it’s one postcard. It’s a big cost savings on that end."

It also saves potential jurors the cost of return postage, for which they previously were responsible.

Those without Internet access will be able to call the Jury Commissioners Office and either complete the questionnaire over the phone or request that it be sent by mail to be returned upon completion.

Centre County Court of Common Pleas and the jury commissioners worked with RBA Professional Data Systems, of State College, on the new program, which is in place for both civil and criminal court selections. Centre County Commissioners approved funding in the county's 2018 budget.

Moser said that planning began about two years ago and the system took about six months to implement once funding was approved and county officials began working with RBA.

In addition to completing the questionnaire, the online system allows residents to defer to future selection dates, communicate with the jury commissioners by email or text, and if, necessary, provide documentation for requests for excusal or undue hardship.

Moser said that several deferral dates are offered and in most cases an automatic deferral will be generated if selected. Some excuses, however, may need to be reviewed by the jury commissioners.

"Most of the deferral dates though, because of the number of people we summon, we usually have enough people for our selection days," Moser said. "We set a number of deferrals people can select so they may have options of dates but we only accept so many online deferrals. At that point they would have to call in and we would have talk to them and potentially defer them at that point."

The new postcards with directions for online response were sent out on Dec. 28 for February selection. Moser said about 50 percent already have been returned.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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